The Four Season’s on The Bow River.
The Bow River in Calgary, Alberta, which is classified as the Lower Bow River has great fishing in all four seasons. Spring starts here in March in the third week of the month. Fishing the spring months can sometimes be a little tricky as the Rainbow trout are on the move to spawn leaving the river open to good Brown trout fishing with the odd Rainbow being taken as well.
Moving into April and May the river start’s to take on new characteristics as May is our run off month. April can be a productive time of year on the Bow, but you’ll find trout in deeper water near the bottom. May is usually a write off as the water gets very high and also very dirty which leaves the river virtually unfishable. This is when I go to other bodies of water, usually reservoirs for other fish such as pike and Walleye. In certain cases you can catch monster trout when the water is stained in May because the trout can’t see very well and are less cautious. I believe your best fishing in spring will come in Best time for spring fishing on the river is March and early to mid-April. If you are persistent and willing to walk sometimes many miles up or down the river to locate the fish, you will do very well. If you are lazy on the other hand and reluctant to walk you are more likely to leave empty handed.
This is when the Bow River really comes alive for me and some of the best fishing takes place here. When the water clears up and the bugs start to hatch, look out. In June, the trout have not really had a decent meal in over a month, so they are looking to pig out believe me. This is when I pull the boat into the water and float this highly productive river for 10 hours or more a day. Look for the fish in back eddies, riffles; heads and tails of pools and off the lower tips of islands in the summer months.
Trout are gorging on flies that are now starting to hatch so use sizes and colors that match. Whether you are a spinner fisherman like me or like to fly fish, match the hatch. Those big plugs and Rapala’s you were using in the winter, and or spring may not work as well early in the summer; so it is wise to carry a heavy arsenal of tackle with you to increase you odds of hooking up. I like to use spinner baits in the early summer months such as the Panther Martin, Mepp’s, Blue Fox or the good old Rooster Tail. Use gold when there is a hatch of say caddis flies coming off, black is also a color I like to use in the summer as it’s a natural color.
July and August can be dynamite here on the Bow River. These are the months I start casting larger bait-fish imitations into the banks with excellent success. You name the plug or minnow bait and I’ve used it with huge success. Look to throw more natural colors as the fish can see very well at this time of year and the pressure on the river has greatly increased. Boat after boat after boat, guide after guide after guide, fishermen galore, you get the idea right. You will need to fish smarter now, not harder in August as the trout have become very wary this far into summer.
This is when the leaves turn brown and the Brown Trout fishing gets very good here on the Lower Bow River. The Rainbow fishing is still very good but it seems as though the Browns are more common at this time of the year.
August on the Bow River has both excellent fishing for both species of trout. I tend to go away from the spinner baits and start throwing larger bait-fish imitations into the banks of the river. A slower retrieve will help increase your success as the water is colder this time of the year. I also like to pull the boat over and fish the deeper holes in the fall as the fish are now moving into their over wintering holes.
September and early October is when those voracious Brown Trout start to fatten up for their spawn, so expect to catch some very large Browns in these months. I love to go out just before it gets dark in these two months and fish well into dark, as this is when the big Browns tend to do most of their feeding. See the article on night fishing for Brown Trout here for more info on this topic. The fall can be the best time for scenery here when floating this river so carry a camera and enjoy the view.
It is common here in Alberta to see winter come in late October and last until the end of March or late April. The trout fishing on this river in these months can only be described as unbelievable. The trout try to fatten up before the water freezes. Ten to fifteen trout in one day can be expected by fishermen that know this river system well.
I look to fish deeper pools in the winter months as this is where the fish will be. I also look for pools that have a large amount of weeds as the weeds host a large amount of aquatic life. This year 2006-2007 was one of my greatest years for winter fishing here on the Bow! I have been consistently pulling out trout that measure up to 28 inches in length.
The winter on the Bow requires a fisherman to constantly be hunting to find deeper holes that hold trout. I found that wherever there were deep holes with an abundance of weeds, there were larger trout to be caught. Your retrieve speeds will have to slow down and select color patterns according to the clarity of the water. Try different methods of casting and retrieving. One of my favorite methods this winter was to cast upstream and slowly reel the lure naturally downstream. Dinging the bottom will also produce trout in the winter as this looks very natural to a trout.
If you are willing to fish when it is a little colder, and are willing to look for the deep pools to fish in; than you will be very happy you went fishing in the middle of winter on the Bow River.